Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Your Daily Muslim: Europe & Islam

Your Daily Muslim: Europe & Islam

I follow Murtada Shah's blog pretty regularly, and I wanted to comment on it in a more expansive way than I could in a comment.

He says "From one perspective, Muslims are taking a severe hit in Europe, but I'd place at least half the responsibility, if not all, squarely on our own shoulders." I'd keep it to half. The other half goes to a culture (a collection of sub-cultures) that has failed to adopt ideas that flowed in its own midst probably two-hundred years ago. Religious tolerance is not unknown in Europe. Cultural diversity is not unknown. The separation of church and state is not unknown. Indeed, those ideas were first spawned there, though they never took root, as they did in America. Europe has a hostile attitude toward aliens, plain and simple. The Muslim experience in Europe is not new; it was once called the Jewish experience, and look what happened to them!

Simply put, Eurpope has, as it did in the time of Rome, a strong "Cult of State." Back in the old Roman Empire, one could worship any god one wished to, so long as one honored the Emperor over all (other) gods. So long as one participated in the Imperial ceremonies when it was called for, one could continue to worship one's own gods without interferance. This was a problem for those whose gods demanded to honored alone, such as the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jaccob (and Ishmael?).

Jews had the advantage of being a small and stubborn minority. They were often given an exception to the requirements, being required to pray for the Emperor, rather than to the Emperor, as others were required to do. Not so for early Christianity, which grew too much for it to be anything but an enemy of the State. Now, Christianity was corrupted when it was co-opted by the State, in the person of Emperor Constantine, and so became a part of Europe's cultural heritage... unless, of course, you are a heretic. In Europe, so long as you follow a watered-down version of Christianity that places the State above God, you can be accepted. Any other sort, and you are shunned. France claims to separate Church and State, but from what I hear, what they actually do is subordinate Church to State. Islam, of course, cannot be tolerated under these circumstances.

Aliens who come to the US can generally make a place for themselves here. Immigrant districts are tolerated, and when they prosper, they are even celebrated, such as the China Towns scattered across the West Coast. There are, of course, ghettos with higher crime rates due to a disfunctional reaction to different circumstances, but that's nothing new in our experience. It started with the Irish, moved on to the Italians, on through a kaleidescope of immigrant groups that had a difficult time adapting their culture to the circumstance of freedom. If there's a bunch of North Africans, Arabs, or Turks in a particular section of town, causing problems for themselves, the city will likely wring its hands, the police assigned to that district will probably be a frightened group, but its nothing new. The only group that has failed to integrate is the group that was brought here against their will.

This is because we don't "integrate" them. We have no official programs. Though freedom erodes in this country, traditionally, we have said, "You may come here, but don't expect a free ride." We have no official language teaching programs, no official cultural indoctrination programs, no requirement except that the people that come here respect our laws, and our laws are traditionally matters of personal justice, of protecting the rights of individuals against the encroachments of others, both foreign and domestic.

Properly, the murder that occurred recently in France and has stirred up so much turmoil ought to be regarded as a murder. The boys who are involved ought to be brought to trial and punished for murder (we'd call it first degree murder here in the States). It doesn't matter that they had some kind of "religious justification" for it. If anyone from the community tries to help them escape justice for the same justification, they ought to be brought to trial for obstruction of justice. Very simply put, it ought to be treated as a felony, not as a crime of thought, religion, or culture; however, the reaction in France shows very clearly that the majority in that country are less interested in justice than in submission to the Cult of State.

If that were not the case, then I'm sure most Muslims could integrate themselves into European society. It may take a few generations, but it could be done. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the Qur'an that justifies that killing. And if there is, I could probably find a way to justify it using the Christian Bible, as well!

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